Charles McGraw

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Charles McGraw
Promotional Portrait
Born Charles Butters
(1914-05-10)May 10, 1914
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Died July 30, 1980(1980-07-30) (aged 66)
Studio City, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1942–77
Spouse(s) Freda Choy Kitt (1938–1967) 1 child

Charles Butters (May 10, 1914 – July 30, 1980), best known by his stage name Charles McGraw, was an American actor. He made his first film in 1942 in a small, uncredited role. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa.


McGraw developed into a leading man, especially in the film noir genre during the late 1940s and early 1950s. His gravelly voice and rugged looks enhanced his appeal in that very stylistic genre, and provided him many roles as cop (The Narrow Margin (1952), Armored Car Robbery (1950) or gunman (The Killers).[1]

Introduced with fellow "heavy" William Conrad as the two hitmen terrorizing a small-town diner in the start of The Killers (1946), McGraw had notable roles in the 1950s, such as "Honest Joe", the insurance investigator turned thief by love in the noir classic Roadblock (1951); the gruff detective assigned to protect Marie Windsor in The Narrow Margin; Kirk Douglas' gladiator trainer in the epic Spartacus; righteous cop Lt. Jim Cordell in Armored Car Robbery; and "The Preacher" in the science-fiction cult classic A Boy and His Dog (1975).

McGraw is recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6927 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.[2]


McGraw starred as Mike Waring, the title character, in the 39-episode 1954-55 syndicated television series Adventures of the Falcon.[3][4] He also starred in the television version of Casablanca (1955), taking Humphrey Bogart's role as Rick Blaine. He later played various one-shot roles in television episodes such as the gruff and menacing sheriff in "The Gamble", an installment of the NBC western series Bonanza.

In 1960, McGraw played United States Army scout Tom Barrows in the episode "The Scout" on the ABC/Desilu western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian. Though he has an Apache wife, Barrows is known for his attacks on Apache warriors. He is called "The Listener" because he cuts off and wears the ears of the Indians he has killed. The Indians retaliate by killing Barrows' wife.[5]

McGraw biography[edit]

In late 2007 Alan K. Rode wrote a biography of McGraw: Charles McGraw: Biography of a Film Noir Tough Guy. The book provides a behind-the-scenes look and anecdotes about his life, including: his long marriage to a Eurasian woman, his World War II military service, his film career, and the story of his death.[6]


Charles McGraw died, aged 66, after slipping and falling through a glass shower door in his Studio City, California home in 1980.



  1. ^ Baxter, John. The Gangster Film, p. 80.; A.S. Barnes & Co: New York (1970)
  2. ^ Hollywood Walk of Fame web site. Last accessed: December 11, 2007.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ ""The Scout" (March 1, 1960)". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ Smith, Richard Harland. "Movie Morlocks", a Turner Classic Movies website, February 23, 2007. Last accessed: December 10, 2007.

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